Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mixed feelings about Jimmy Carter

I voted for Jimmy Carter for President twice and generally support his humanitarian efforts and was always impressed with his efforts to pursue peace in the Middle East, but still I have lingering concerns about him. I just read his criticism of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair in a Reuters article entitled "Carter blasts Bush, Blair on Iraq" and generally agree with his criticisms, but Carter had enough of his own shortcomings in the national security arena, so this may be more a matter of the pot calling the kettle black.

Back in 1980, the economy wasn't doing so great under Carter's stewardship, his handling of the U.S. hostages in Iran was drawing fire, progress in resolving the Cold War was rather iffy, and his relations with Congress were hardly much better than those of President Bush. His "malaise" undermined support and resulted in his loss to Ronald Reagan.

One of the great unwritten stories of the post-Vietnam era is the extent to which U.S. funds were funneled through Pakistan to Islamic extremists in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet occupiers. In addition to botching the Cold War, Carter may have also had a key role in giving a boost to the global terrorism which climaxed with the attacks of 9/11. The U.S., under his stewardship was "using" terrorists in precisely the same way as the U.S. is today accusing Iran of supporting terrorists, and not that dissimilar to Reagan's attempt to use the Contras in Nicaragua (albeit with a difference in congressional support or lack thereof.) As I say, this story is largely unwritten, so we simply do not yet know precisely who said or did what and when they did say or do it or who knew what when. Nevertheless, Jimmy Carter's national security credentials are dubious at best.

It is certainly easy to criticize Bush and Blair, but I think Carter should chill out and focus on the things he does best and simply relish the simple fact that neither President Bush nor Prime Minister Blair will ever get a Nobel peace prize for their efforts in Iraq or their Global War On Terror.

-- Jack Krupansky


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